Posted by: Lizzie Ross | July 18, 2010

Ruritanian intrigue

The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), Anthony Hope, Penguin, 200 pp.

When Rudolph Rassendyll travels to Ruritania, he’s reluctantly pulled into efforts to save the crown for his distant cousin, King Rudolph — he must impersonate his kidnapped cousin until the proper King can be rescued and restored to his country. While trying to outsmart the infamous Black Michael and Rupert of Hentzau, he falls in love with the Princess Flavia (and she with him, thinking he’s a changed King).

Wouldn’t it be convenient for the real King to die while in the hands of Black Michael, and for Rassendyll to take his place?

There’s lots of old-fashioned loyalty to principles of friendship and honor, and Princess Flavia is more decorative than otherwise (perhaps off-putting for readers who like modern women with modern sensibilities), but it’s good stuff, and Hope delivers a “ripping yarn”.

Rupert of Hentzau is Hope’s sequel to his popular novel, in which Rassendyll finds himself once again drawn to Ruritania and the woman he loves.

Bit of interesting trivia: In The Seven-Percent Solution, Sherlock Holmes has a brief conversation with Rassendyll in a Ruritanian hotel.

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